United States District Court, D. Connecticut
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION ON MOTION TO DISMISS OR
TRANSFER VENUE [DKT. 18]
Vanessa L. Bryant United States District Judge
the Court is Defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of
personal jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(2) of the Federal
Rules of Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2). See [Dkt. 18].
Plaintiff Jose Velazquez (“Plaintiff” or
“Velazquez”) filed this negligence action in
state court and Defendant Gator Park, Inc.
(“Defendant” or “Gator Park”) removed
this case based on valid diversity jurisdiction under 28
U.S.C. §§ 1332 and 1441. This action is based on
Plaintiff's alleged injuries sustained when he fell off
an airboat in the Florida everglades while taking one of
Defendant's guided airboat tours. For the foregoing, this
motion to dismiss is GRANTED and this case is transferred to
the Southern District of Florida.
following facts are taken from the complaint unless otherwise
stated and are assumed but not found to be true for purposes
of this decision. Gator Park is a Florida tour guide company
that operates airboat tours in the Florida everglades. [Dkt.
1¶¶ 2, 4]. On or about May 2015, Mr. Velazquez took
a group airboat tour. Id. ¶ 4. The airboat
crashed into an embankment, Mr. Velazquez was ejected into
the water where alligators were known to be present, and he
suffered injuries. Id. ¶ 6. Mr. Velazquez
alleges the airboat was driven at a high speed. Id.
¶ 7. It is also alleged Defendant either failed to
provide seatbelts or they were not properly inspected before
operating the airboat. Id.
Park operates a website where it sells tickets, and a person
in Connecticut who wants to take an airboat tour can buy the
ticket on the website. Id. ¶ 6. Plaintiff does
not indicate whether he purchased a ticket on the online
successfully defeat a Rule 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss for
lack of personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden
of showing that the Court has personal jurisdiction over the
defendant. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. v.
Robertson-Ceco Corp., 84 F.3d 560, 566 (2d Cir. 1996).
“At this stage of the proceedings, the plaintiffs must
make out only a prima facie showing of personal
jurisdiction through their own affidavits and supporting
materials and all affidavits and pleadings must be construed
in the plaintiffs' favor.” Edberg v. Neogen
Corp., 17 F.Supp.2d 104, 110 (D. Conn. 1998) (citing
CutCo Industries, Inc. v. Naughton, 806 F.2d 361,
365 (2d Cir. 1986)).
amenability of a foreign corporation to suit in a federal
court in a diversity action is determined in accordance with
the law of the state where the court sits . . . .”
Arrowsmith v. United Press Int'l, 320 F.2d 219,
223 (2d Cir. 1963) (en banc); accord Hoffritz for
Cutlery, Inc. v. Amajac, Ltd., 763 F.2d 55, 57 (2d
Cir.1985). Accordingly, this court applies the law of the
State of Connecticut. In order to ascertain whether a court
has personal jurisdiction, Connecticut applies a two-step
analysis. A court must first look to the forum State's
long-arm statute and determine whether that statute reaches
the foreign corporation. If the long-arm statute authorizes
personal jurisdiction over a defendant, the court must then
decide whether the exercise of jurisdiction over that party
offends due process. Bensmiller v. E.I. Dupont de Nemours
& Co., 47 F.3d 79, 81 (2d Cir. 1995) (citing
Greene v. Sha-Na-Na, 637 F.Supp. 591, 59 (D. Conn.
facts relevant to personal jurisdiction are largely
undisputed, and it is therefore helpful to discuss them in
brief at the outset. It is undisputed that Gator Park's
website enabled users to purchase tickets online in advance
of the tour. See [Dkt. 1 ¶ 5 (alleging
defendant sells tickets through an online portal, which is
available to Connecticut residents); Dkt. 18 (Reply) at 4
(“The defendant concedes that it is possible to
purchase advance tickets, for rides in the Miami area,
online.”)]. Plaintiff does not, however, allege he
purchased the ticket online. See [Dkt. 16-1 at 5-6].
It also is undisputed Plaintiff sustained injuries in
Florida. See [Dkt. 1 ¶ 6; Dkt. 16-1 at 4]. The
parties dispute whether these facts are sufficient to give
rise to personal jurisdiction in Connecticut.
Court must first determine whether Connecticut's long-arm
statute reaches Gator Park. A foreign corporation is subject
to personal jurisdiction in Connecticut pursuant to Conn.
Gen. Stat. § 33-929(f). Plaintiff claims personal
jurisdiction is valid under subsection (f)(2), which makes a
foreign corporation subject to suit in Connecticut for any
action arising “out of any business solicited in this
state by mail or otherwise if the corporation has repeatedly
so solicited business, whether the orders or offers relating
thereto were accepted within or without the state. . .
.” Conn. Gen. Stat. 33-929(f)(2).
law has two methods for establishing personal jurisdiction:
specific jurisdiction and general jurisdiction. Specific
jurisdiction is valid “whenever the defendant has
purposefully directed [its] activities at residents of the
forum and the litigation [has] result[ed] from alleged
injuries that arise out of or relate to those
activities.” Thomason v. Chemical Bank, 234
Conn. 281, 288 (1995) (internal quotation marks and citations
omitted); see Am. Wholesalers Underwriting, Ltd. v. Am.
Wholesale Ins. Grp., Inc., 312 F.Supp.2d 247, 254 (D.
Conn. 2004) (stating Connecticut law defines specific
jurisdiction as “generally speaking, [where] the
defendant purposefully directs certain enumerated activities
at the forum state, and those activities actually caused the
harm complained of”). Specific jurisdiction is
inapplicable here because Plaintiff was not injured in
Connecticut and does not allege he took Gator Park's tour
in response to a solicitation he received in Connecticut.
jurisdiction, in contrast, does not require a causal
connection between the solicitation and the injury. See
Thomason, 234 Conn. at 296 (addressing §
33-929(f)'s predecessor statute, Conn. Gen. Stat. §
33-411(c)); Centennial Helicopters, Inc. v. Sterling
Corp., No. CV0504002666, 2005 WL 3508575, at *3 (Conn.
Super. Ct. Nov. 22, 2005) (identifying § 33-411(c) as
the predecessor statute to § 33-929(f)). Rather, in
Connecticut it requires “proof that a particular
plaintiff's cause of action is similar to a cause of
action that could have been brought here by a person whose
business the defendant did solicit.” Thomason,
234 Conn. at 297; Am. Wholesalers, 312 F.Supp.2d at
256 (recognizing that Connecticut law requires only that
plaintiff demonstrate the defendant “could reasonably
have anticipated being hauled into court” by a person
solicited in Connecticut and that the cause of action is not
materially different from a possible action resulting from
the solicitation) (quoting Thomason, 234 Conn. at
296); F&F Screw Products, Inc. v. Clark Screw Machine
Prods. Co., No. CV000500360S, 2002 WL 31894843, at *3
(Conn. Super. Ct. Dec. 10, 2002).
order to satisfy general jurisdiction, the defendant must
have specifically targeted Connecticut residents. See
Thomason, 234 Conn. at 298 (finding personal
jurisdiction established where “[t]he advertisements
specifically encouraged Connecticut residents to place a wide
variety of banking business with the trustee bank”);
Am. Wholesalers, 312 F.Supp.2d at 257
(“Without deliberate targeting, or at least a more
substantial subscription base in Connecticut, there can be no
purposeful availment of the laws of the State of Connecticut,
and therefore long-arm jurisdiction cannot be
proper.”); West World Media, LLC v. Ikamobile
Ltd., 809 F.Supp.2d 26, 30 (D. Conn. 2011)
(acknowledging Connecticut's “broad interpretation